Antifreeze and Your Pet

As cooler weather approaches, many vehicle owners will be adding antifreeze to their car engines. Doing this helps a car’s cooling systems function better in cold-weather conditions. Unfortunately, antifreeze is highly toxic to our animal companions! Below, learn more about this dangerous poison and how to protect your pet from danger.

Why Is Antifreeze Poisonous?

Most antifreeze products use an alcoholic substance called ethylene glycol as the main ingredient. Ethylene glycol is a toxin, and can poison humans as well as animals. Even worse, it has a sweet flavor and smell that is likely to attract pets!

Antifreeze is also dangerous because it doesn’t take much to cause toxic reactions. As little as a few tablespoons of antifreeze can result in life-threatening symptoms.

Is All Antifreeze Poisonous?

Some antifreeze brands, in an effort to make their product less dangerous, use propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol as the main ingredient. Propylene glycol is safer than ethylene glycol, but it’s still not worth the risk. It’s safest to keep pets away just to be safe.

Many antifreeze brands that use ethylene glycol add a bittering agent to their product, which is designed to repel pets (and human children) who may decide to ingest the substance. This is helpful for lessening the chance of a poisoning episode, but remember that it isn’t a substitute for good preventative care.

What Are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

The initial symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in pets include uncoordinated movements, nausea and vomiting, excessive urination, increased heart rate, lethargy, and diarrhea. As poisoning progresses, a pet may experience central nervous system depression, seizures and/or convulsions, and fainting episodes. Without prompt treatment, a pet can slip into a coma and die.

Often, pets who survive antifreeze poisoning will develop kidney failure a few days after initial ingestion. The prognosis in these cases is, unfortunately, poor.

How Can I Prevent Poisoning?

Clearly, it’s far safer to prevent antifreeze poisoning entirely, rather than deal with it after the fact. For starters, use an antifreeze brand with propylene glycol as the main ingredient. Store all antifreeze containers far out of pets’ reach, and clean up any and all spills right away. Don’t let your pet roam near areas where antifreeze is likely to have been spilled, like garages, driveways, or roads.

Do you have further questions about antifreeze and how to prevent a dangerous episode of poisoning? Contact us today!

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